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right, and my guests are going to include tomorrow night, mark mellman and a bunch of others. we'll see you right back here. "vieoint" thliotpier is next. [ ♪ theme music ♪ ] >> eliot: good evening i'm eliot spitzer and this is "viewpoint." for the second time this week, mitt romney is looking to reset his campaign amidst cries of anguish from fellow republicans who think he should win. the poll that shows president obama with the lead from slim to substantial. in the same margin of likely voters in the associated press poll. but he also a five lead over romney and eight-point lead in
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the latest pew poll. all of those polls were taken before mother jones released the tape that may prove to be the turning point in this race. with mitt romney telling fundraisers that nearly half the country, by his count were a bunch of losers and moochers. >> eliot: public reaction to the tape is interesting. according to a grand new gallup poll say those remarks make them 20% more likely to vote for romney. while 36% say he they're less likely to vote for him and his running mate, paul ryan, tried to clean up the mess that romney
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made. >> he was inarticulate in making this point. the point we're trying to make here under the obama economy economics stagnation is up. >> eliot: thanks for the good word paul. president obama told david letterman while quote all of us say the wrong thing once in a while. >> one thing i never tried to do, and i think none of us can do in public office is suggest that because somebody doesn't agree with me, that they're victims or they're unpatriotic. >> eliot: but wall street generalwall streetjournal columnist said he should peer deep into the abyss he should look straight in the heart of darkness where lies a republican defeat in a year, when a republican candidate almost doesn't loss. then he needs to snap out of it and move. after starting the week saying he would focus on specifics romney tried to open a new front
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in an atlanta speech today. >> romney: there are some people who believe if you simply take from some and give to others, we're better off. it's known as redistribution. a tape came out a couple of days ago where the president said yes, he believes in redistribution. i don't. >> eliot: does that mean scary socialism? the republican national committee wants us to think so in this ad. >> you're really talking about income equality that suggests redistribution of wealth. >> i actually believe in redistribution. >> eliot: of course, those comments come from the president when he made from an university talk in 1998 sound a little different in context. >> i actually believe in redistribution. at least at a certain level to make sure that everybody's got a shot. >> eliot: and apparently so does mitt romney as the "washington post" points out romney's campaign i quote believes in a progressive tax code, medicare,
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medicaid food stamps, social security and other programs that redistribute income. let's be clear. redistribution is as american as apple pie. let's go to molly ball and josh, let me start with you. clearly this has been horrendous horrendous. terrible stretch for mitt romney once again one of many unfortunately for him. how would you begin to make lemon made out of these lemons? >> i don't know that you can. the reason why this is damaging to mitt romney, he's the most opaque candidate since richard nixon. people don't know what he thinks or what he believes. he seems to be vulnerable to leaks like this and what this window says he doesn't care about a substantial portion of the country. i think he has to walk this back. he has to do what george bush senior did. it's the message i care thing.
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he has to really show that he really does care about the entirety of the country and he wants to implement policies that will make everybody office, and he doesn't believe that everybody is shiftless losers. the problem is that's opposite of what he said. >> eliot: he came out and he has doubled down, and not walked this back. did he not say this was taken out of context or i misquote. he has doubled down making the debate about redistribution the centerpiece of the campaign right now. i think you're right it makes him look less empathetic, if possible, than he did before, and that's his achilles' heel. >> eliot: he said, no, we stand by this, and then paul ryan said something completely different than what romney said. you can have a discussion about the social safety net is too large and it's couraging people from working but that's separate were what mitt romney said when he said that these people see themselves as victims and he can't convince them to
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take responsibility over their own lives. >> eliot: molly, he was personalizing the attack on the individuals, and moving away from the three theoretical argument about the enormity of government and are we promising too much. do you think that debate, if you made it that way would have put him in good stead whereas personalizing it will come back to haunt him. >> it's amazing how he has been turning this around, as you heard paul ryan do in the space of maybe ten words into a less personal debate in one where he doesn't seem to be attacking people. romney has this inability to ever backdown. he wrote a book called "no apologies" so maybe he thinks it would be hypocritical to admit that he made an error. he can't say oops, that's a terrible thing to say. here's what i meant. he's insisting that he never said anything wrong at all and that magnifies it for a lot of
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people when they hear it, and how could anyone believe those things. >> eliot: i also want to read to both of you and to the audience as well, a piece of the wall street journal editorial and i rarely agree with wall street journal but they crafted language that goes to the heart of his inept capacity and there is a participate they scripted. i want americans to be less dependent on government, not because it costs too much. we will always will help americans who need our help. i want americans to be independent so they can realize the pride of accomplishment and the dignity of work and contribute their god given talents to build a better country. there is affirmative message that can be found but he's harping on the negative, these are bad people aspect of if and that's not going to persuade people to vote for him. >> no, it's not and it's telling that he thought this was the message to the high-dollar
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donors that he was speaking to who are much inclined to write off the population. the problem is it it's not clear what the up shot is. he focused his remark on 47% of americans paying no income tax. the reason people don't pay incomes is because they don't have a lot of income. the up shot, we need to raise taxes on the poorest half of america who is not paying taxes now. >> if you continue to read editorial, they go off in la la land but that paragraph was an affirmative of what he was trying to say. molly, mitt romney had to reboot his campaign. after the crisis of libya where he made himself look inept in foreign policy issues. now this. he was supposed to give specifics. when will we get specifics and when there will there be an affirmative message that we can
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construct the campaign. >> it's areel hard to remember the last time the romney campaign had a good day. you know, something where he wasn't tripped up or thrown off message. i suppose you could say every time a jobs report comes out and it's not good news, that's a good day for the romney campaign. but a day where he did something that made things good for him is hard to remember. the thing you have to keep in mind is that things keep getting worse for romney. they don't keep getting better for obama but by default. the president has been invisible because romney has hogged the spotlight with his mishaps. that's always been the winning formula for the romney campaign. when all the attention is on romney they win. you have to imagine obama gets dragged back into the frame and he has to have something to do with the selection as well. >> eliot: the focus on bain, mitt romney somebody completely
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lacking in empathy and he has embraced everything to make it happen. you talk about the one area where you thought mitt romney could win economy and jobs. when the jobs report came out it was very negative, it does not seem to have had an impact on the president. josh the president almost even with mitt romney when the public is asked who will handle the economy better. this used to be the one sweet spot for mitt romney. >> it's remarkable. but the romney campaign does not have a clear message about what they'll do better on the economy than the president has. the president has no clear message on what he's going to do to fix the economy since he has four years and has not done nearly as much as been need. but the prescription that romney puts out is the same republican prescription we've had for the last 20 years. if those policies did not work in 2007 when the economy fell apart, i don't know he can sell that that will fix the economy now. >> eliot: let's switch back, molly, you said that the president in the spotlight
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because this tape because of president obama a few years back embraced the notion of redistribution. i believe redistribution is as american as apple pie. but the republican party trying to turn that into a boogeyman issue. will they succeed and will the public view that in that negative way. >> i don't think it's a popular concept with the public, but this is not a shocking revelation about president obama. it's the same thing he said in in 2008 to joe the plumber when he said he believed in spreading the wealth around. this is not a real gotcha. this is something that a lot of liberals and most republicans agree with on some theoretical level. is it a dirty word and socialism word where it turns people off on some irrational level but i don't think that attack getting much traction. if it was so incredibly bad for
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obama he would have lost in 2008 thanks to what he said then. >> eliot: i think that's a fair assessment. it's important with so many other things that we saw with the way that paul ryan dealt with the issues, how you phrase things. if you make redistribution part of our sense of sharing and helping those who need a hand up, then i think it could be an affirmative spin. josh, will mitt romney continue to hammer away on the president on this? >> he'll try. it works better as a talking point than a serious discussion. the discussion of redistribution is inherent. what they're fighting over is who are they going to redistrict from and to. the republicans want to cut $800 billion out of medicaid and spend extra $700 billion on medicare. the republicans want redistribution for old people and democrats want it for poor people. >> eliot: molly, you've shown your wisdom so many times. going into the debates and compared to where we are after the debates will the debates at
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the bottom of the ninth inning for mitt romney, will they shift this campaign in a meaningful way. >> the debates are important. i'm not going to make a prediction for you. >> eliot: oh, come on. >> i have a policy against that, but one thing we've seen about romney in the primaries is that people have forgotten because it's been awhile, he is a very good debater. this is something that the obama campaign is talking about a lot because they want to raise expectations for him. it's true, and it's true that the president has not debated in four years. he may an little rusty. we know both of them are prepping and preparing and for romney especially, he has got to know now that his back is up against the wall, and this is sort of his last chance for real game changer. i think you'll see him come very very prepared. what i think both of these guys have in common that is going to be interesting dynamic during the debates is this tendency to get a little bit irritated to let someone get under their skin. so you may see both of them trying to bait each other and brang out those flashes of very
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unattractive irritability that they're both prone to. >> eliot: i thought you were going to say too many harvard degrees, and it would be a boring debate. molly, josh, thank thank you for being on the program tonight. now to my point. (vo) jennifer granholm ... >>for every discouraged voter, there are ten angry ones taking action. trickle down does not work. in romney's world, cars get the elevator and the workers get the shaft. that is a whole bunch of bunk. the powerful may steal an election, but they can't steal democracy.
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from silver screens... to flat screens... twizzlerize your entertainment everyday with twizzlers the twist you can't resist. >> eliot: this election has been notable for the sheer involve dishonesty emanating from republican supporters.
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and the number of the day is still one more example. 20. that's how many he is as essays "the wall street journal" ran on its op-ed page without mentioning that the authors were advisers to the mitt romney presidential campaign. general editors did not point out the vested professional interests these authors have in the election outcome. which is to say newspaper customers were never told they were basically reading advertisements. journal editor are among its most experienced in the news business so they know better. this kind of omission is simply inexcusable. one other shocking fact from the story, it's hard to believe that mitt romney actually has nine campaign visors the way things have been going the last couple of (vo) this is joy. >>who the heck does mitt romney think he is? (vo) this is joy on current tv. >>if mitt romney treats his magic underwear the same way as his tax returns, then he's been going commando for the past 10 years.
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[ ♪ theme music ♪ ] >> eliot: give mitt romney credit, i suppose, for doubling down. perhaps he had no choice. even the master of etch-a-sketch couldn't erase the content of his dismissive tone towards the 47%. so embracing it became the strategy. put aside the factual errors about who pays and who doesn't. we dress those last night.
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even the question whether the 47% might still support romney, there's much interest about that question in the media today. i want to thank romney for defining what this race is all about. in his clarifying statement yesterday and today romney has squarely said he oppose government that redistributes and he has repeated to the point of boredom that he opposes the forms of government economic intervention, the auto bailout and the stimulus, that have defined the government's fiscal policies for almost 70 years. so what is the intellectual framework, assuming there is one, for romney? it really is the word of robert nozick and ayn rand, the world of such a diminished government that only the efforts of the individual are to be valued, and the collective are derivedded and denigrated. in option to romney's world-view is that of john rawls and john maynard keynes. they provide the intellectual
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guide posts for what has worked and it has worked pretty well. people who have should and help those who have not. and in a way that promotes growth and overall prosperity. this has been and should be a core piece of our national ethic. those who receive the handup are not to be denigrated arrest derided. they're ever much a part of our community as anybody else, and will some day return the favor to others who are in a moment of need. we should articulate this world-view loudly and clearly. we should not be shy about declaring it, and we should not whisper it in a cowardly way. it is right morally and philosophically and has built a stronger nation. one last thought. romney now has made payic taxes the litmus test of good moral standing in our community. he has done this by dismissing
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the 47% as dependents and slackers. so while i had grown tired and lost interest in mitt's tax returns, i have sudden new found interest in examining them. if payment is the ticket to moral up rightness, i want to know if mitt has punched his own ticket. i'm once again curious how hard he tried to become part of the 4747% with offshore shelters and other gains that are suspect. mitt, before you deride the hard working folks who perhaps are not fortunate enough to file an incomes tax return i want to see how hard you minimize your own contribution. game on, where do you stand with your own taxes. that's my view. now to my point. (vo) jennifer granholm ... >>for every discouraged voter, there are ten angry ones taking action. trickle down does not work. in romney's world, cars get the elevator and the workers get the shaft.
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>> eliot: any historian will tell you evolutions are unpredictable. they never move in a straight line. moments of democratic euphoria are often followed guy despotism despotism, and mop rule. the arab spring has been followed by a hot summer and now an uncertain future. it may not impossible to predict the region or evaluate our role thus far but here to do just that is james traub who is every wise and ever thoughtful. james, thank you for joining us again. after this past week, mobs surround our embassyies, the
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horrific event of our ambassador being killed. are we better off now. >> is this good for the united states? is this good for the arab people. >> eliot: just to stop you, that is a fundamental question that we don't often stop to ask that question. who is we? >> we tend to think if it's bad for us it must be bad for them. we don't stop and think that something bad for us might be good for them. in the long run the middle east is to have legitimate stable government. stable democratic government. that's good for them. in the short one it's quite possible while it's still good for the arab world, it will be bad for us. why? because when you replace bought and paid for dictators like we had before who could be counted on to share america's sense--
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>> eliot: mu barrack. >> when her you replace that with a democratic government, which is responsive to its people and you have a population which is fairly heavily anti-american, it's going to look pretty anti-america. is that bad for arab peoples in egypt libya yemen and elsewhere? >> eliot: syria. >> we don't know, and the answer is no. but is it bad for us in the short run? probably yes. >> eliot: but is this short-term pain was it and is it inevitable in the sense that at some point there was going to be a transition from the the ma mubaraks and gadhafis of the world. did we hold on longer than we legitimately should have done so? had we eased away from him sooner there wouldn't be this
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virtual lent anti- anti-{^l"^^}american sentiment. >> it's hard to think that the united states had a role in these things. it's hard for us to recognize that things happen in the world over which we have little control. we did not cause the arab spring to not happen. we didn't cause the arab spring to happen. once it happened there were generally positive things in the hopes that it would produce a better outcome. but the primal energies that caused that, that wasn't the united states. so i'm not that inclined to say that american policy is either at fault or is a causative factor for much that we've seen in recent months. >> eliot: fascinating and i think correct in your critique. what explains what appears to be a deep-seeded venom towards the united states right now. >> well, i think a couple of things. obviously the administration would like to say it's this movie. this 14-minute movie. yes, that is the immediate
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provocation and clearly the sense that the prophet cannot be insulted, that's very important. remember, one, the history is bad. united states supported dictators in that part of the world forever. that's a well-known fact and legend of folklore in the middle east. two, palestine, and even if you put those things aside the deep sense of frustration resentment bitterness that people have towards their own lives, dictators had ruled their lives had been directed towards the united states. mubarak domestically they were very happy to stoke the fires of anti-americanism. they played this double game as we know in places like pakistan. even if the united states does the right thing right now, it's not going to bring about a pro-american view. that will happen very slowly.
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>> eliot: perhaps this is a bad metaphor, but having been to vietnam and the deep affection that the vietnamese citizens now feel for the united states, even though we were bombing them because they admire our system of freedom capitalism which may not translate as well in egypt and who knows about libya one will have to see. is this disengaging from history, and turn and corner and from time hope to aspire to a normal relationship. >> yes, but so much of it has to do with people's relationship with their own country that i suspect until you have a greater sense that people have a legitimate government, their aspirations will be met, they have economic opportunities that wish to blame somebody, including the west, including the united states, is still going to be very strong. so it's going to be awhile. it's going to be slow, and it's going to be hard for americans to watch because they'll think what did we do?
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we helped you. we helped libya. we helped egypt. why are you so mad at us? maybe there was the kind of deep neat for people to keep the united states as and he my. it should not be so, but it is so. >> eliot: we don't have much time but the analog here would be we direct our venom economically against china blaming they will, not a perfect metaphor, but we need an external source to explain our problems, and therefore-- >> we're we not quite as angry because our situation is better. >> eliot: not quite. >> so we're nicer. i think we need to distinguish when we say "we," let's not despair over what's happening in the middle east because it's not good for us. it's really not good for us right now, but it doesn't mean that it's bad for them, and i'm hopeful about the direction of events in middle east. >> eliot: moving towards justice. you're saying patience is a
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